Archive for August 2013



Posted 08/30/2013 by Donald Gasaway in Misc.



Over the past few years, there has been an increasing interest in day packs.  It’s a trend that has probably saved more than a few lives.  A day pack can vary from a fanny pack to a back pack.  The idea is that it contains all the things the hunter might have need of during the trip afield.

It use to be that hunters in the Midwest did not feel a need for a day pack.  We are after all quite close to civilization and can walk out of any risky situation.  WRONG!  How are you going to walk out if your leg is broken and your hunting partner is not within voice range?  Not long ago a mother, with her young child, went for a walk near their home in southern Illinois.  They became mixed up in the directions and night fell upon them.  The pair had to spend the night in the woods until rescue teams located them the following morning.  They were only a few miles from a large town but did not know which way to go.

What should a day pack contain?  First of all should be a first aid kit.  Good ones can be purchased or one can be constructed by the hunter.  It should contain everything from aspirin to band aids.  Burn ointment and bee-sting medicine is also a good idea.  If you have any particular medications that are taken on a regular basis, such as high blood pressure medication, that should also be included.  If the hunter does not see well without glasses, then a spare pair, in a hard case, is a good idea.   Moleskin is a good idea for treatment of blisters.

Next should be a space blanket, the type made of foil and light in weight.  A fire starting kit can be made of waterproofed stick matches and lint from the household dryer.  The lint can be packed in a zip-loc plastic bag.  Matches can be waterproofed by coating the heads with a heavy coating of clear nail polish.  This works better than coating with wax as the wax tends to melt in hot weather.  The nail polish coats the wood and match head to prevent penetration of moisture.

Also on the market is duct tape under the name of Duck Tape.  It comes in a three-yard flat pack that is easily stowed.  It is much easier to work with than taking a role of the usual grey duct tape.  Either type of tape is handy for repair of equipment or in emergencies.  It can be used to mend waders and to cover blisters.  It can be used to seal pan legs to keep out ticks or to tape an ice pack to a sprain.  You can even wrap ankles with the tape immediately after a sprain to provide stability and help reduce swelling.  It can be used to hold splints in place to support a broken bone.

A high shrill whistle is a good idea.  Whistles hold up longer than vocal cords when trying to attract help.  Three short blasts on a whistle is a recognized distress signal.  Another signal device is a mirror.  There are aluminum ones available in camping stores.  A good compass is a welcome navigational tool.   A map of the area can be helpful in case you become lost.

Another good tool is a multi-blade knife like the famous Swiss army knives.  A small flashlight and fresh batteries are a must.

It also helps to have some hard candy or a high energy bar as survival food and for peace of mind that you won’t starve to death.  Water purification pills and a large zip loc bag can be used to prepare water for drinking when your canteen becomes empty.

There are things like a wire saw or a saw-blade knife are handy for hunter in that they can use them to clear shooting lanes or to help in field dressing game that has been downed.

The purpose of the above survival items is to supply the necessities to provide for you positive sense of psychological as well as physical security.  It is there if you need it.

Other items in a day pack are more directly related to the type of hunting one is doing and the weather conditions one might encounter.  There is nothing like warm clothes to change into even if it is just dry socks after one has fallen into a stream.  A sweater is helpful if the weather situation is likely to change during the day.  Fall often means warm temperatures during the day with cold temps in the early and late portions.

Often a poncho or light weight rain suit is appropriate depending upon the type of hunting one does.  There are any number of thin plastic suits on the market that are very light in weight.  They do not have to be expensive if they are only to be used in emergency situations.  A large plastic garbage bag will even work.  Just cut holes of the head and arms and slip it over the top of your other hunting clothing.

Most day packs have several compartments.  The outside ones should be reserved for the first aid kit and for things like calls that might be needed on a minutes notice.  Bulky things like clothing can be packed inside the main compartment.  By packing and re-packing several times, the hunter is soon aware of the order he needs to use.  Try not to over load the pack.

You will find that the more you use the pack, the more sure you are of what to put in it and in what order.  Things like calls and trail gear as well as food stuffs (lunch and snacks) and water can get too heavy.  Take only what you think you will need.




Posted 08/28/2013 by Donald Gasaway in Misc.


Shawnee Forest 0001

One of the nicer ways to enjoy a fall hike though beautiful Williamson County and southern Illinois is to fish along the way.  Mild weather and striking foliage add to the experience.  The many streams, lakes, and ponds provide an enjoyable outdoor experience for both the day hiker and the backpack camper.

Between the state and federal governments, there are more than 400,000 acres of public land south of Interstate 64.  This also includes bodies of water such as Kinkaid Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake Murphysboro, Devils Kitchen Lake, Little Grassy Lake, Lake of Egypt, Horseshoe Lake, Lake Glendale, Mermet Lake, Rend Lake, and Ponds Hollow Lake.

Some of the fish species found include bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill and sunfish.  Additional species found in specific waters are carp, drum, Muskie, striped and white bass, hybrid bass, and pike.  Devil’s Kitchen also contains trout, both rainbow and brown.

Most hiking trails in southern Illinois are easy to moderate in difficulty.  Hiking them is not too strenuous if one takes a few precautions and is in moderately good physical shape.  The trails pass though valleys and level terrain with hills and ridge tops.  This is not to say that there is not rough terrain, only that the trails are not rough.

With a good map and guide book, the average hiker/fisherman can find some excellent wilderness fishing.  Maps and guide books are available at camping supply, book stores and bait shops throughout the area.  The Williamson County Fishing Guide ( is helpful.  Publications and websites of governmental agencies such as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service are also good resources.

Gear selection is also important.  Give primary consideration to your feet.  Hiking boots are a good idea and there are a number of very good ones on the market.  They should be well broken in before taking to the trail.  Wear them around home or work for a day or two and they will get broken in more quickly.  Short walks around the neighborhood will soon tell whether they are broken in enough for the trail.  The walk also helps increase your stamina.

When hiking it is a good idea to wear cotton fabrics and acrylic stockings.  The loose-fitting clothing is cooler.  Tuck pants legs inside the stockings and wear long sleeves if possible to prevent insect bites.  Brimmed hats are popular to shield the head from the sun.

Insect repellent and sun blocker is a good idea.  Insects can be a nuisance during the summer months.  A pocket size first aid kit or at least some band aids are a good bit of insurance for accidents.

Place the above items in a small knapsack or book bag.  To that, add a small tackle box containing your terminal tackle and lures.  There are a number of companies making those small (4″X 6″) plastic boxes that are available anywhere fishing gear is sold.  The little compartments keep the different types of lures, floats, hooks and sinkers separate.

Light is best when hiking with fishing gear.  What seems like nothing at the beginning of a hike can become much heavier as the day wears on.  A small rod and reel is a good idea.  There are a number of ultra-light rod and reel set-ups on the market.  Some even break down so as to be stored in a backpack.

Fishing line for this light rig should be something in the 4-pound range.  Heavier line does not work as well for casting from ultra-light rods.  A few crankbaits and leadhead jigs and a bunch of light color curlytails will last a long time carried in the tackle boxes.  Fish the Jigs slowly.  With a little practice it is possible to retrieve the jigs at the exact speed that gives the curlytail the motion it needs.

Hiking and fishing is great for the soul.  The peace and quiet of the big woods as well as the physical exercise gives one a peace of mind.  Late fall in southern Illinois is beautiful.



Posted 08/27/2013 by Donald Gasaway in Misc.


7 Year Old 2For the past 26 years, families have traveled to the campus of John A. Logan College on the fourth Friday of September.  They attend the Southern Illinois National Hunting and Fishing Days, an event designed to teach hunting and fishing skills as well as the ethics, safety and conservation issues associated with them.

The event is arguably the largest of its kind in the nation.  Upwards of 40,000 people attend the event in the southern Illinois community of Carterville.  This year the event takes place on September 28-29.  The hours will be Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Admission and parking is free as are the activities.  Vendors will be present supplying food and outdoor products.

Children’s activities will include a youth goose calling contest at 8:30 am on Saturday as well as archery, shooting sports and fishing.  Free bait and tackle is available for the later.  There is adult supervision and instruction for all activities.

Dogs and waterfowl activities figure prominently in the celebration.  Handlers provide demonstrations by dock dogs, agility dogs, retrievers, search and rescue dogs, police dogs as well as coon and fox hounds.

The waterfowl calling series will begin with the Don Gasaway Youth Goose Calling Contest on Saturday at 8:30 am.  Both male and female youth callers are welcome.  There will be two divisions, 12 years and under as well as those 13 to 16 years of age.  There is no entry fee.

The youth contest is followed at 11:00 am by the Fun “Team” Goose Pit Calling Contest.  Here 3-man teams will compete for all of the $20 entry fee purse.  At 1:00 pm the Illinois State Open Duck Meat Calling Contest will begin.  First place will receive $1,000, Second $500 and Third $250.  Entry fee is $40.

On Sunday at 1:00 pm the Tim Grounds Southern Illinois World Open Goose Calling Championship.  Entry fee is $40.  First Place will receive $1,250, Second $750 and Third place gets $250.

Other activities planned will include wildlife and nature art show, seminars on fishing, game preparation and outdoor cooking as well as a buck skinner’s village with tomahawk throwing area.  Displays will include Taxidermy, ATV, RV, boats, deer antler measuring, trapshooting, archery, and a special fishing display.

This year the activity is sponsored by, John A. Logan College, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Crab Orchard Refuge, AISIN, Marion Toyota and Toyota Tundra, Williamson County Tourism Bureau, and McDonalds. Others sponsors include:  Southern Illinois Bowhunters, Sams Club, Winchester Ammunition, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bank of Marion, Southern Illinois Bank, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McKinneys Western Store Natural Gear, Tim Grounds Calls, Drake Waterfowl Systems, Higdon Decoys, Marion Chamber of Commerce, Budweiser Golden Eagle, and Farmers State Bank.

Further information is available on line at: or by calling Dwight Hoffard at 618-985-3741, ext 8208.  Vendors seeking information can contact Ron Allen at 217-725-7602.




Posted 08/27/2013 by Donald Gasaway in Misc.

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